Hannah Arendt, Adolf Eichmann, and the Perversity of Brilliance

In Eichmann in Jerusalem, her 1963 report on the trial of the former SS director for Jewish affairs, the German-Jewish philosopher Hannah Arendt portrayed her subject as an ordinary, mindless bureaucrat rather than a genocidal monster: an example of what she famously called the “banality of evil.” Norman Podhoretz responded with a decisive critique of her thesis, which appeared in Commentary under the title “Hannah Arendt on Eichmann: A Study in the Perversity of Brilliance.” In the essay, Podhoretz also took Arendt to task for her attack on Jewish communal leaders for what she describes as their complicity in the Holocaust, and for her contempt for Zionism. Ruth Wisse discusses the essay, its legacy, and its implications for today in conversation with Eric Cohen. (Audio, 43 minutes. Options for download and streaming are available at the link below.)

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Read more at Tikvah

More about: Adolf Eichmann, Anti-Semitism, Hannah Arendt, History & Ideas, Holocaust, Norman Podhoretz

The New Iran Deal Will Reward Terrorism, Help Russia, and Get Nothing in Return

After many months of negotiations, Washington and Tehran—thanks to Russian mediation—appear close to renewing the 2015 agreement concerning the Iranian nuclear program. Richard Goldberg comments:

Under a new deal, Iran would receive $275 billion of sanctions relief in the first year and $1 trillion by 2030. [Moreover], Tehran would face no changes in the old deal’s sunset clauses—that is, expiration dates on key restrictions—and would be allowed to keep its newly deployed arsenal of advanced uranium centrifuges in storage, guaranteeing the regime the ability to cross the nuclear threshold at any time of its choosing. . . . And worst of all, Iran would win all these concessions while actively plotting to assassinate former U.S. officials like John Bolton, Mike Pompeo, and [his] adviser Brian Hook, and trying to kidnap and kill the Iranian-American journalist Masih Alinejad on U.S. soil.

Moscow, meanwhile, would receive billions of dollars to construct additional nuclear power plants in Iran, and potentially more for storage of nuclear material. . . . Following a visit by the Russian president Vladimir Putin to Tehran last month, Iran reportedly started transferring armed drones for Russian use against Ukraine. On Tuesday, Putin launched an Iranian satellite into orbit reportedly on the condition that Moscow can task it to support Russian operations in Ukraine.

With American and European sanctions on Russia escalating, particularly with respect to Russian energy sales, Putin may finally see net value in the U.S. lifting of sanctions on Iran’s financial and commercial sectors. While the return of Iranian crude to the global market could lead to a modest reduction in oil prices, thereby reducing Putin’s revenue, Russia may be able to head off U.S. secondary sanctions by routing key transactions through Tehran. After all, what would the Biden administration do if Iran allowed Russia to use its major banks and companies to bypass Western sanctions?

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Read more at Dispatch

More about: Iran nuclear deal, Russia, U.S. Foreign policy